In mid-September, 550 competitors from 17 nations arrived in Toronto, Canada’s downtown, to compete in the Invictus Games. From the moment athletes and their supporters touched down in the city, Toronto did what it does best – welcome the athletes with open arms.
Every competitor in the Invictus Games is an active duty or veteran service member who has become ill or injured during their service. It makes sense that the name “Invictus” comes from the Latin word meaning, “unconquerable.”
These were the third Invictus Games, and the first to be held in Canada. The games, started by Prince Harry in 2014, are meant to showcase the indomitable spirit of military veterans who are rising above their service-related disabilities. They are a gathering of the empowered, showing the world how a select few veterans are able to “soldier on” and remain strong in spite of their conditions.
As Canada’s most diverse and inclusive city, Toronto was an ideal host for the Invictus Games. Toronto is no stranger to welcoming athletes of all kinds, as it was just two years ago that Toronto hosted the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
In fact, one of the important legacies of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games is that they made it possible for the city to bid on, and host, multisport games such as the North American Indigenous Games earlier this summer, and now the Invictus Games.
Multiple venues around Toronto hosted the events, including the opening and closing ceremonies. The venues included Air Canada Centre, Nathan Phillips Square, The Distillery District and the Toronto Islands.
Toronto Canada was the perfect host for this event, as the country is celebrating its 150th anniversary of Confederation. Canadians from coast-to-coast have been celebrating Canada’s history, their cultural differences, and all the things that make Canada special. This was a great time to celebrate those that have sacrificed so much for Canada, and to cheer them on with pride.
The games featured 12 adaptive sports including, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, a variety of track and field events, and golf, the newest addition to the 2017 Games.
In 2017 Canada is also celebrating significant military anniversaries, including the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridg. This provided a unique opportunity for Canadians to commemorate and honor the country’s wounded and injured soldiers and their families.
The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 adopted a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation by offering events beyond sport to help motivate competitors and not let their injuries define their capabilities. Notable activities included celebrations of culture, connection to employment opportunities, support for friends and family members, and educating the public about the sacrifices of service members.
Prince Harry wasn’t the only big name in town for Invictus. Celebrities, world leaders, and some of the biggest names in music arrived at the Air Canada Centre for the Opening Ceremony, including Canada’s own Sarah McLachlan and Alessia Cara. The Closing Ceremony on September 30 featured Bryan Adams, Bachman and Turner, Kelly Clarkson, and the Boss himself – Bruce Springsteen.
The Invictus Games provided an opportunity to showcase the city of Toronto to the world in a new way. The games awoke the empathy for military heroes and empowered the public to celebrate and support service members and military families in need. These seven days in September were an inspiring time for the city and the world.
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